Sergio Arcuri: Old and New Artisan Excellence in Calabria

By eight in the morning, the sun was already baking in Sergio’s organic vineyards by the sea in Cirò Marina. He was alone tending to each V-shaped alberello vine with care and attention.”It’s a form of meditation for me,” he said. “I don’t look out to see how far I have to go. I just go one at a time.”

His father, Giuseppe, planted this vineyard in 1948 using plants he hand chosen and grafted onto rootstock himself. That was his business, a vine grafting. Sergio learned from his father how to use traditional tools. with tool

The family grape growing operation dates back to Sergio’s great-grandfather in 1880. A plaque in the family cellar recalls that one of his father’s wines was in Luigi Veronelli’s auction catalogue for the 1000 best wines in the world in 1968.
Veronelli choice

In 1973, Giuseppe, Sergio and Sergio’s brother Francesco, began using the family cellar to make their own wine to sell as vino sfuso. In 2009, they began bottling for sale. The wines are tannic and salty, but have the elegance that Veronelli, the iconic journalist and crusader for quality, noted forty years ago.

One of the key factors are the sea breezes that keep Sergio’s vines cool. This photo shows the road that runs down to the beach.

road to sea

The hills behind are drier by contrast.
dry hills behind

The soil is a clay limestone mix that combines with the sea air to give Sergio’s wine a hint of saltiness.
vineyard dirt

Sergio, like his friend Francesco De Franco, believes in the native variety Gaglioppo. His cellar is under his parent’s house in town. He still uses the old cement fermentation tank…
fermentation tank
…that looks more like a bathtub) for making his 10,000 bottles of wine with indigenous yeasts and nothing added except a small amount of sulfites at bottling.
inside fermentation

Both he and Francesco are representative of the tradition of every family in Cirò making wine. Once upon a time, everyone had a vineyard and a small cellar.
at vat

We tasted some wine from the cement tanks where it was aging as well as two bottles.

Sergio Arcuri Marinetto Rosato IGT 2014
100% Gaglioppo grapes that macerate just a few hours with the skins. Still, the wine has characteristic tannins and salty freshness.

Sergio Arcuri Aris Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore DOC 2012
100% Gaglioppo (even though the DOC rules allow 20% international varieties). A fine and elegant version of authentic Gallioppo.

After a couple of days in Cirò, my palate adjusted to the tannins. I became a real fan of the artisan version of the unusual Gaglioppo grape. More stories coming….
A Vita Map copy

Sergio Arcuri
Via Roma Vico III, 3
88811 Cirò Marina (Kr)

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